top of page


Adorable Chick

Kashmir Diary : April 2013 - Day 7-10

Blessed with lush green meadows, snowy peaks, crystal waters and the beautiful Liddar Valley, the town of Pahalgam is a treat to travellers around the year. It is strategically placed at the foot of Mount Kolahoi where the famous Aru valley reaches the Shesnag River. It is known for its unusually tall fir trees that carpet surrounding mountains , with plenty of snow-clad peaks forming a spectacular sight. It roughly takes about a little more than 2 hours to get here from the capital city of Srinagar . This erstwhile village derived its name from the Kashmiri words "PAHAL" (which literally means "Guarding" but here refers to the shepherds who guard the sheep) and "GAON"(which means village). It, therefore, was popularly the "Village of Shepherds".

As Gulmarg was our previous stop, we had to pass by Srinagar yet again to get to Pahalgam and that took us around 3 and half hours . Starting our journey early that morn after breakfast, Younis drove us the entire length with interesting stops on the way. The PARAMPORE saffron fields and a shop attached to it was something we can never forget. We stopped here to shop for dry fruits along with some Saffron of course and were also treated to some great KAHWA TEA. The tea is rich in saffron and helps withstand the extreme climatic conditions in winter. It is also known for its range of health benefits. Obviously we picked up a few packets of these. Sipping Kahwa outside the shop that was situated opposite to the Saffron field, offered some unparalleled views. Sadly, we could not witness the bloom of the lavender coloured Saffron flowers as it was off-season. We were also offered some best sun-dried apples that the Kashmiris use in most of their cooking. It was an interesting chat with the shop owner who explained the field, the tea, the saffron picking methods and the sun-drying procedure of the apples.

Our next stop was at the AVANTISVARA TEMPLE. Built during the period of King Avantivarman, the ruins of this Shiva temple today occupies a small piece of land on a roadside, lying on the route between Srinagar and Pahalgam (around 50 mins drive or 30km from Srinagar). The monument is registered as a National Archeological site and a small area surrounding it is also protected against mining, farming and other commercial activities, strictly under the protection of archeological sites. The temple lies on the banks of river Jhelum. Known for its beautiful stone structure, this once upon a time glorious place unfortunately became a part of muslim invasion during the 14th century and was subject to ruins.

Tidy Desk

We reached Pahalgam a little after lunch time. Our biggest nightmare came in the form of FOREST HILL RESORTS that we had booked in Pahalgam. The setting and backdrop of the resort was to die for. The rooms were below average to our dismay. The door lock came off just the second time that we accessed it, of course it was replaced. We decided to adjust and didn't move out. The dinner was served out in the open around a campfire that night. The next morning saw us all in good cheer.

We woke up to snowy peaks. Younis kick started our day tour on time. Our first destination was DAANA PANI- for breakfast. The town of Pahalgam look sleepy at that hour. It was breathtakingly beautiful. We were off to Aru valley. The first stop was by the LIDDER river. Snow peak mountains greeted us from all sides and the sleepy town was a sight to see. The pristine river side deserved a stop. We frolicked in the cold waters for a while before setting out to the Aru Valley. It is a 30 minute scenic ride from Pahalgam to Aru Wildlife sanctuary.

Tallest pine trees, green valley, clear blue skies, gurgling waters popping out of various spots greeted us with open arms. We were spell bound by it all. Once we got to the Sanctuary, we decided to take a Horse ride. Younis helped us get a good bargain. Each of us rode a horse and the kids shared one. The horses responded to their names when called out aloud. Trailing behind one another, with the jockeys constantly beckoning the animals as they walked beside us on their foot, we made our way through the valley witnessing some of the most spectacular sights. It was 45 minutes of sheer bliss , riding up and down the valley with the horses occasionally juggling us around. When in Pahalgam, a visit to the Aru valley is a must. The horse ride left us a bit tired.

We backed up our energies by simply sitting down for a while on a green piece of meadow till we felt fine. A chiit-chat with the jockeys provided an insight on how they led their simple, daily lives and looked after their horses for a livelihood. After a long conversation, they offered to take us up the valley further to a unique temple.